June 10: Blessed Edward Poppe
Blessed Edward Poppe is a contemporary saint. He died at the young age of 33.
He was an energetic child and an excellent student. His mischievousness saw him often knock things over even putting himself at risk of being harmed. He was also quite stubborn and never left his sisters alone though his sisters would often get back at him and would muss up his hair when he was caught combing in front of the mirror. He was also a big eater and liked to devour treats from his father’s store. But in 1902 he received his First Communion and Confirmation and this made him more serious which meant jokes and teasing became rarer.
In spring 1904 his father introduced him to his business plans and had hoped to see his son begin a baking apprenticeship though Poppe remained silent at first though his resolution to become a priest led him to tell his father as much. Not long after a priest friend to his parents gave a favorable opinion of Poppe’s vocation to which his father told his mother: “Let’s not be selfish. God has not given us our children for ourselves”.
He was one of 11 children born to a modest, pious family in Belgium. One of his brothers had become a priest, and five of his sisters became nuns. He felt a call to the priesthood at a young age, but he only entered the seminary on his mother’s insistence. His father had died when he was 16 years old and Edward thought he should take on the family business.
He was drafted to the military in 1910 and served as a battlefield nurse during World War I. His prayers to St. Joseph during that time led to the miraculous freeing of several prisoners of war.
He was finally ordained in 1916 at the age of 25 and served as associate pastor, focusing his ministry to the poor, children and the dying. He also taught catechism and founded Eucharistic associations.
Always a man with a weak constitution, he was transferred to rural Belgium. In 1919, he suffered a heart attack. During his convalescence, he spent most of his time studying, praying and producing thousands of writings against Marxism and secularization.
He also developed a devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and adopted her spirituality. He had another heart attack in January 1924, and died of a stroke only six months later. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999.